Thursday, October 4, 2012

Chasing After eBay's Top-Rated Seller

I quit selling on eBay in January 2009 due to low sales and high fees.  I did keep a small and occasional presence on eBay while I moved the rest of my books to Bonanza, known as Bonanzle at that time.  My sales were awful on eBay since I did not have good exposure in eBay's best match search.  eBay was very harsh in how it evaluated sellers via the seller dashboard, and I kept receiving unfair low star ratings, explained here

I sold little on eBay from 2009 to around the beginning of 2011.  In 2011, eBay announced that it was giving auctions better visibility and also began consistently giving sellers a number of free auction listings per month.  I took advantage of the free listings and quickly began building my sales up.  I wanted to attain top-rated seller since eBay has told sellers for years how top-rated sellers get better visibility and increased sales.  eBay had become a secondary venue that I could use to move slow-selling books and that I could also use to help drive buyers to Bonanza.

It took me approximately one year to build my sales up to $3000 and 100 transactions.   The requirement is per 12 months and sales constantly roll over from the previous 12 months.  Right at the time that I reached $3000 during the spring of 2012, eBay announced that it was lowering the sales requirement to $1000 and 100 transactions.  This was fine with me, since I would have less trouble keeping up with top-rated seller... or so I thought.

I have had top-rated seller since June, and by August, I was already in danger of losing it.  I now feel like I'm on a hamster wheel, running, running, running, trying to keep up with the sales that are rolling off from one year ago.  So what is the problem?

Now that I am a top-rated seller, eBay has lowered the visibility of top-rated sellers in best match.  After years of telling us that top-rated sellers get better visibility, eBay switches it up again.  Here, one top-rated seller reports how eBay has decided to lower the visibility of top-rated sellers in order to give under-performing sellers a better chance.  I have also read many reports on the message boards of top-rated sellers complaining of reduced visibility and sales cut in half.

When I was not a top-rated seller and was struggling, top-rated sellers had the extra visibility.  I am now a top-rated seller, and eBay lowers the visibility.  Now, why couldn't eBay have done this in, say, late 2008?  eBay, you have lost so much money in the listing and final value fees of the thousands of dollars in books that I have sold on Bonanza in the last four years.  Not that you care.

My current sales problems are also due to eBay once again lowering the visibility of auctions in best match.  I have to use auctions since I refuse to pay eBay a listing fee ever again.  eBay changed the best match algorithm earlier this year to decrease the visibility of auctions.  Part of my success last year on eBay was due to the increased visibility of auctions.

I used Nancy Drew picture cover editions to build up my sales last year.  I explained what I did in the post "Using eBay Effectively."  I had hit upon a method of getting good sales by grouping the picture covers into lots of five to seven books.  I was very successful and probably sold around 30 such lots over a few months.

Nancy Drew picture cover editions are hot right now on eBay. I have tried the same strategy of placing the books in small lots.  I sold a couple of them, but the others have languished.  Why are my lots getting ignored when the picture cover books are so popular right now?  I think my picture cover lots are getting suppressed in best match, which would not be too difficult considering the thousands of Nancy Drew books on eBay.

For other series, suppression in best match cannot be the explanation for low sales.  I have concluded that the seven-day auction model on eBay is no longer viable for average used series books on eBay.  The 30-day fixed price listings are the way to go, but I refuse to pay $0.50 per listing and I refuse to open an eBay store since I have a perfectly fine free store on Bonanza.

Since I know what I am up against, I have to decide how to proceed.  I need around 10 sales by November 20 to keep my top-rated seller status, three more sales by December 20, and 21 more sales by January 20.  The hamster wheel keeps turning.  If I can meet the quota of January 20, then I will not have to sell very many books in the following four months, but I would need to keep at it to try to pull ahead of 100 listings.

I have brainstormed about which books to list on eBay and have removed some books from Bonanza to list on eBay.  I pick books that have been listed for a long time.  I do not wish to take desirable books that I have not had listed long and sacrifice them to eBay.  I choose books that have been up for sale for months, lower the prices, and hope for success.

I did manage to sell enough books in September to meet my October 20 quota and partially meet my November 20 quota, and I plan to use all of my 50 free listings during the next several months in order to meet the sales quotas for the following months.  My greatest obstacle is the extremely low sell-through rate of my eBay auctions, but I plan to keep at it.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

I just wish eBay would get rid of "best match"! It's been years since I sold on eBay, for some of the same reasons as you. I did open a Bonanza store as well, after seeing yours--thanks for the model!

Best match doesn't affect me much as a buyer, since I've set it to show all auctions by date listed--but unfortunately many buyers (if not most) have no clue they're missing out on auctions.